More fun with nature vs. nurture: Chimps and stick “dolls!”  »

[Photograph by Michael Poliza, National Geographic/Getty Images]

National Geographic has a nice article about little chimps in Uganda and their stick dolls! First they were like, “chimps play with dolls!” but really they are sticks so I didn’t want to get you too excited like they got me excited, EXCEPT that it seems little girl chimps in captivity will choose to play with “feminine” toys like dolls while the boy chimps choose trucks and “masculine” toys. Fascinating!

I love me some monkeys and I know we’re not supposed to anthropomorphize them but omjesus, so adorable! Check it out:

Young females of the Kanyawara chimpanzee community in Kibale National Park, Uganda, use sticks as rudimentary dolls and care for them like the group’s mother chimps tend to their real offspring. The behavior, which was very rarely observed in males, has been witnessed more than a hundred times over 14 years of study….

"Carriers regularly take sticks into the nests they rest in during the day, something that isn’t done with other objects. Individuals are [also] known to play with their sticks while in their nests."

Adorbs! What they are trying to find out, considering the nature/nurture implications, is whether our toy selection is at all gender-based. Scientists saw this division in toy selection in captive chimps but seeing it in wild chimps tells us even more. Scientist point out that in the wild, chimps would not have seen their parents playing with toys like the sticks so this makes a case for a natural desire in males and females to play with different toys. Fascinating!

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